At The Alter | 2016 in review

Relaxing Sunday evening, listening to worship music while soup simmers on the stove. My jaw has finally stopped aching, at least for the time being. Found out yesterday after visiting Urgent Care that one of my wisdom teeth is abscessing, so guess who'll be losing her Wisdom in the next couple of weeks? That would be this girl, right here. Exciting (much sarcasm) stuff.

On another note, I'm super happy to have my laptop back. The reason I haven't blogged? Besides having an incredibly busy (as in non-stop socializing,) schedule, this little baby decided to temporarily give up the ghost. Beauty of having friends with techie roommates. Laptop is back up and running, and man does it feel good to have my fingers flying away as I type. It's been too long. I haven't been able to play the piano (one of my biggest emotional outlets,) but not being able to write has been semi-torture. No, but really. I've wanted to say a little something about 2016 for awhile--pretty much since my laptop "broke" around the new year.

Can I just say how amazing our God is? I seriously cannot even begin to imagine everything that happened last year. Literally, its like my life has made a complete 180. I discovered this amazing trick called surrendering to God. . .and life changed. Its been a very long and tedious and sometimes seemingly hopeless journey. But there IS hope. Really, I've given up so much fear, and for once, I am really, truly happy. Truly happy. I'm a happy person by nature, but that deep, inner soul peace--it isn't something I've experienced this fully since before I was a teen. It's like, I really don't need to worry anymore. It wasn't my time for a long time to "shine." To see my dreams fulfilled. I've written a lot of very similar posts in the past, especially on my old blog. Trust is such a difficult concept for me. But this summer I had to give up a dream, a really big dream. And once I started realizing it wasn't all about me, layers of self-pity, insecurity, and bone-crushing fear began melting away. How I wish everyone could experience the power of Jesus! All those prayers that seem unanswered. . .cryng out to Him from the mountain-top, most literally for me this summer. Crying out and begging for stability. Life isn't about stability. It's about taking chances and finding peace. With yourself, with the world, with family and friends. But mostly yourself. Once you can learn to love yourself, and I don't mean in an egotistical way. Love yourself for who you are. Once you can learn that, with all your messes, mistakes, imperfections, awkwardness, and failures, you begin believing--not just knowing, but believing--that you are His child. And that is the most fulfilling sensation in the world.

And worship. Really, really pouring out everything at the alter of our Lord and Savior. The most impacting act of worship I've ever seen was this summer at the ranch, when we hosted a conference for The City of Refuge. Its one of the main reasons I'm going to Thailand this year. (wow, it's actually 2017. . .and I'm actually going on a missions trip?? Whaaaa??) My life with never be the same. I watched broken, battered, deeply scarred women really, truly worship the only Man who has ever valued them. Worship and adore Him, because He is their Father. You and I haven't come close to experiencing that kind of pain, and yet, all our insecurities as women are similar. The speaker one night asked the women to call out words they identified with. Words like "worthless," "failure," "defiled," "unwanted," "dirty," and "hopeless" were replaced with God's definition: "worthy," "perfect," "randsomed," "wanted," "washed," "saved." How do these reminders not soak into your soul and change your whole perspective? Not an eye was dry in that room, for we stood on Holy Ground. You could feel Him in the room, see His smile, enjoy His touch. He was basking in our acceptance, in our belief that we are His daughters, they we are perfect in His image. Wow guys, such a deep, deep love! "Are you hurting and broken within, overwhelmed by the weight of your sin? Jesus is calling. Have you come to the end of yourself? Do you thirst for a drink from the well? Jesus is calling. O come to the altar. The Father's arms are open wide. Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ."

In 2016, I found Jesus again. Not that I'd lost Him. He never leaves. But I found that rich, rich bounty of fellowship. The bond that exceeds all others. When I first arrived at Wind River someone asked me why I was there. My answer? "I want to have a relationship with Christ." See, I let discouragement get me down. I couldn't remember peace, only fear. Let me tell you this, there is nothing quite like mountains to still the soul and chill the heart. They wound their way inside of me for the second time, so that when I close my eyes I literally long for their stern towers, plunging caverns, and spiraling peaks. God is in the mountains. He is in the sunsets, the way the western sky burns and softens by turns. Rich, flaming orange, fading into subdued purple, cushioned in clouds. Once, sitting on the massive mudslide behind the ranch with one of my best friends, looking down at the valley, I was struck by the sheer beauty. Mountains cradling the earth on every side, a glorious sky. And in the clouds, I promise I wasn't seeing things. . .something like a cross. Maybe it was just a fantasy, but at that moment, it was so very real, like a direct promise. Prayer became my anchor this summer. I'm currently trying (McAruthur Bible in a year, y'all!) to get a better reading schedule, but prayer. Prayer is a powerful tool. Much more than most people recognize. Oh, I'm not saying that you'll pray and things will start magically happening. It's this conversation with God, very personal, very tangible. On the mountain, I would get so transfixed, so caught up in my prayers, that everything else faded away. I couldn't see anything but me and Jesus. And He listened. He listens. 

There is one ever prevailing fear on the Mountain Top. It's the fear of coming down. On a very physical and metaphorical level. Physical, because the ranch has been life-changing to me. I couldn't-can't-imagine a more real family. Metaphorical, because reaching the summit of a relationship with Christ can come crashing down in moments. There is a spiritual high, and then things happen. . .life happens. . .and we lose focus. I was scared, coming down the mountain. But I found something I didn't think possible--I can have the Mountain Top Experience wherever I am. It's called surrender. It's called trust. It's called finding God in the impossible. It's about knowing that He is Greater, He is Higher, and He controls it all.

And so I find myself in my little house in Kentucky. And life is really good. Really, really good. Not perfect, but pretty awesome. All the confusion of the last several years is gone. It's just me and Him, every day. I went from a scared girl to a woman full of hope and excitement for the future. I'm ready to follow, wherever He sends me. To think, last spring I was working a job I absolutely hated, saving for a summer away from home. Come fall, I finally found the means to move out, landing my current job at the Creation Museum in Kentucky. And the people. My "family" is big, and they are true and loyal to the core. I met my soul mates in 2016. Precious women and men that have enriched my life in the deepest way. Thank you. Thank you for giving me courage, thank you for believing in me. Thank you for pointing me to Christ, and living an example of Him, to me. I am facing 2017 with an expectant heart. I literally cannot wait to see what lies ahead. 
Onward and upward!!   

1 comment:

  1. Wow this nearly brought me to tears. Thank you for sharing - this really grounded my perspective. But it also made me miss you like crazy! Can't wait to see you again!